The past two games of this series have gone into overtime. Tim Duncan has taken over both. Head Coach Gregg Popovich, after the game tells Sports Illustrated how huge Duncan has been for the team in overtime.
“He was huge the other night in overtime and got it done for us and he did it again tonight,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “That’s why he is considered as great as he has been for the last 17 years. He’s been unbelievable, he feels the responsibility to carry us.”
Duncan who is 37 years old has many people pondering how he is playing with such high energy at his age. In watching many games in my life, this sense of urgency from Duncan is a scary one. He has that look of previous championship runs for San Antonio. This could be his last, but he surely will give it his all as he has been doing during the regular season and these playoffs.
In a series defined by an insanely high level of defensive intensity and execution and the long stretches of offensive struggles the quality defense has produced, Duncan again looked like the freshest player on the court in the game’s biggest moments. His and-one basket, achieved by going straight through Marc Gasol, launched a 12-3 overtime run that essentially buried the Grizzlies’ hopes in this series. If that wasn’t splendid enough, he followed it up with a no-look touch pass to Tiago Splitter for a layup moments later. Finally, a patented soft-touch finish at the rim to gently plunge the dagger.
Being around Duncan for so long, Popovich seemingly was out of words to say when talking about the future Hall of Famer.
”I don’t know what else to say,” he shrugged.
With the star power that Duncan and company have on the team, this does not effect Popovich at all with decisions in which he makes. At the start of the game, the Grizzlies came out like most expected, full of energy, aggressive. They started off hot. They could not miss anything and early on it look like they would possibly smoke the Spurs. San Antonio scored just 13 points in the first quarter, turned the ball over 8 times. So, what Popovich did probably surprised some people but this is what makes Pop, well, Pop. He pulled all five starters and later gave the reason why.
“It looked like those five guys had been asleep since Tuesday,” Popovich said. “We might as well get five guys out there to start to compete. … It was one of the worst starts I’ve ever seen.”
The Grizzlies though could not pull-away though and surely they are thinking about that time when he [Popovich] pulled the starters. San Antonio closed the deficit which was 18 points, to just 4 at the half. The Spurs did not lead in this game, until the fourth quarter. The game was tied at 86 at the end of regulation and that is where “Old Faithful” took over, and the rest as they say is history.
Manu Ginobili spoke on this win to the media.
“One of the best wins I’ve witnessed being a Spur,” said Ginobili, who, in addition to being old for eight years, is now in his 11th season in San Antonio. “It really looked ugly, [The Grizzlies were] really inspired, all over us. It wasn’t looking good. We come down, we started to do what we do, we started to take care of the ball, things started to change.”
San Antonio is now one win away from its first Finals trip since 2007. If they can pull off the sweep in Game 4 on Monday, the Spurs will enjoy a ridiculous nine full days of rest before The Finals open on June 6.